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Florence or Siena?

I’m in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Italy and am struggling with allocating my time between these two cities. With 4 nights, would you recommend staying in Florence or Sienna (or perhaps do 2 nights in each?)? Having never been, I’m not sure if that would be too rushed? I’ve read positive things about Siena (magic at night, etc), but don’t feel I have an actual understanding of what that entails or how it compares to the night atmosphere in Florence. I will be traveling alone and would like to stay in a fairly populated area for my own sense of security. I would really appreciate any input regarding your experiences and opinions, thank you!

Posted by
705 posts

Both are just lovely. I too travel alone and I would stay in Florence, it's larger, more to see and do and I have never felt threatened there at night walking around the streets. Not back streets that is. Sienna is definately seeing though as it is really pretty and interesting.

Posted by
9 posts

We stayed in Florence for four days in November 2005. We wanted to see Siena also, so took a day trip by bus to Siena. It was easy to do. A few days before the trip, we went to the bus station in Florence and talked to a lady at a travel office there. She explained how to buy a bus ticket. We got a bus schedule and bought our bus ticket the morning of the day trip, shortly before the bus left. It was a wonderful trip. There are multiple times to leave Florence and then return from Siena. You can make it as short or as long as you wish. We loved Siena. Even the drive to and from there was beautiful, in spite of the weather being overcast and a little rainy. We have many wonderful pictures and memories of Siena and Florence. Florence felt very safe, even at night,just walking the streets and enjoying gelato! Best wishes for a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1737 posts

Your idea of spending 2 nights in each town is good.
To really experience anything, you need to be there at night when the tourists leave. You will not be rushed.

Another thought is to spend 3 nights in Florence (since it is larger with more to see/do. And one night in Siena so you can be there to experience the town.

We've done "day trips" to a town, and it's fun, but we felt like we missed something.

Siena is wonderful, so much smaller and quieter than Florence, it is worth your time to spend one or 2 nights.

Posted by
4 posts

I'd also recommend 2-nights in each. Florence has many more sites but is bigger in ways I don't always enjoy. I love Sienna, though. Smaller, more quaint; to me it has that classic Tuscan feel folks are looking for. Esp if you can stay over night when the day trip crowds mellow.

The past couple trips we've skipped Florence but have never skipped Sienna, for what it's worth.

Posted by
216 posts

I side with Brent. To get the flavor of both, 2 nights in each (if you don't mind moving) would be a great idea. I, too, love Siena. I'm one of those weird (?) people, though, who is not a big fan of Florence. I've stayed in both places, but can you beat the night life of watching the stars (and people) on a Siena evening seated in/on/around the Il Campo? Not in my book.

Posted by
91 posts

I stayed in Sienna and day-tripped to Florence. Both are great cities, but Florence is more crowded. Sienna offers so much more peace and a refreshing, small-town feel. You need to stay in the 'old town' of Sienna. With the 2 churches and climb the clock tower. At night, take in the local atmosphere. Good Luck.

Posted by
934 posts

I go along with 2 in each.Siena in the evening after the tourist buses leave is a great place.Two nights in each gives you a full day in regards jack

Posted by
26 posts

We stayed in Sienna for 2 nights, and Florence for 2 nights last September. Doing it over, I think that I would actually spend 3 night in Sienna, with a day trip to Florence. While the art in Florence is amazing, it can be seen in a day, and just being in Sienna is magical. You could spend the day saved on another city on your trip. If you do not do this, then 2 nights in each would be second best, as 4 nights in either city would probably be over-kill. Also, when we went, this section was in the middle of our trip, so 2 nights in each city was a lot of travel, when we were already tired.

Posted by
1 posts

I recommend staying in Siena. I admit I am biased toward Siena because I spent a month there in 2000 to attend language school. Siena has a population of about 60,000 versus half a million for Florence. Although Siena is relatively large it has that small town feel. Siena is a very safe city. Although Florence is only a little over an hour by bus from Siena I had no desire to go there. I opted to visit the smaller towns of San Gimignano and Montalcino. Nothing beats strolling the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy the Piazza del Campo during the evening passeggiata with gelato in hand. Siena is truly magical. I cried when I had to leave there.